Vere Gordon Childe

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V. Gordon Childe
Vere Gordon Childe
BirthplaceSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Known for Excavating Skara Brae. Marxist archaeological theory
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Childe, Vere Gordon


Born Apr. 14, 1892, in Sydney, Australia; died Oct. 19,1957. British archaeologist. Fellow of the British Academy (from 1940). Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London (1946–56).

Childe conducted excavations in Scotland and Northern Ireland and on the Orkney Islands, at Skara Brae. His main works dealt with the prehistory of Europe and the East, in which, guided by the works of Soviet researchers, he proposed a materialistic basis for historical processes. He opposed the theory of migrationism, which explains changes in culture through migrations of peoples, advancing instead the theory of the independence of cultural development. Childe studied the origin and development of farming—the Neolithic revolution, the transition from the hunting and gathering economy of the Paleolithic to the producing economy of the Neolithic. Although he regarded the evolution of the economy as the primary factor in social progress, he reduced the problem of the rise of a state system to a question of the origin of cities (the urban revolution), not devoting proper attention to social relations.

Childe was accidentally killed in the mountains near Sydney.


Prehistoric Communities of the British Isles. London, 1949.
Prehistoric Migrations in Europe. Oslo, 1950.
Social Evolution. London [1951].
In Russian translation:
Progress i arkheologiia. Moscow, 1949.
Uistokov evropeiskoi tsivilizatsii. Moscow, 1952.
Drevneishii Voslok v svete novykh raskopok. Moscow, 1956.


Mongait, A. L. “G. Chaild.” Sovetskaia arkheologiia, 1958, no. 3.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Leiamos, tambien, con mucha atencion a Vere Gordon Childe y los principios basicos del materialismo historico explicado en un texto de la chilena Martha Harnecker.
Fifteen chapters in the Thinkers section are devoted to John Anderson, Herbert Vere Evatt, Vere Gordon Childe, Bernard Smith, Robert Hughes, George Seddon, Hugh Stretton, Jean Martin, and Peter Carey.
He did not take kindly to other luminaries in his territory (Davidson cites the presence of Vere Gordon Childe at the Australian National University--ANU).
Their topics include the paradox of diet and technology in the Middle Paleolithic, the antiquity of large-game hunting in the Mediterranean Paleolithic, the importance of process and historical event in the study of the Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition, the archaeological signature of behavioral modernity at the southern periphery of the modern human range, Paleoindian stability during the Younger Dryas in the North American lower Great Lakes, and Vere Gordon Childe and the concept of revolution.
The archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe, in the first half of the twentieth century, believed that the beginnings of settlement and agriculture represented a revolution in social and economic practices, one that laid the foundations for surpluses, trade and urban development--and the wealth and warfare that went with it.
The essays are labelled as follows: 'Passage One: The False Horizon'; 'Passage Two: Shades of Blue'; 'Passage Three: Into the Labyrinth'; 'Passage Four: The Echo and the Sound Itself'; 'Passage Five: Vere Gordon Childe and the Abyss of Time'.
In Chapter 2, Patterson takes Vere Gordon Childe as the starting point because from the 1930s he was 'the pivotal figure in the formation of the discourse that linked Marxist social thought and archaeology' (p.33, emphasis in original).
The papers collected in this volume were delivered at the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London, on May 8 and 9, 1992, celebrating the centennial of the birth of Vere Gordon Childe, probably the foremost archaeologist of the twentieth century.
Much of it was shaped by Vere Gordon Childe; and the haunting title of his Man Makes Himself (1936) reminds us that the questions with which he struggled, and died unable to resolve, are with us still.